For the last 22 years I enjoyed my time leading a consultant engineering department and a local church. I enjoyed those opportunities to be in the “fray” of connecting with and leading employees, customers, staff, boards, teams and members. Currently I am enjoying a season where I am an observer and a guide, serving as a lifeline when the senior leader needs an outside connection, perspective, and a partner in collaboration. It is hard to be a player and a coach at the same time, so I have decided to be a coach for this season.
Yes, it is often unnerving and uncomfortable. Transition always reveals your identity and inner health. Throw in the disruption of COVID 19 and moving to a new part of the country and the reveal becomes even more deep and painful. Yes, I have some areas of my inner life God and I are working on. And, I am so thankful for this opportunity to further align my inner health with God and his word; learning again and experiencing better how my identity leads to my heritage and my inheritance.
One of my greatest blessings of this season of work is having discussions with business, church and nonprofit leaders around the United States.
On Wednesday I hosted a round-table video call and a pastor from Florida shared the framework he is using to guide the response, of the churches he oversees, to the systemic injustice people of color continue to face in our country. His framework consists of four responses, in order: listen, learn, lament and love.
Our response must begin by listening. Next week he is hosting a video call where three African American pastors are going to share their experiences with racism and prejudice in America. The goal is for the pastors of other ethnic backgrounds to listen, to hear the stories of three “typical” African Americans. The goal is not to debate, discuss or to solve but to value through active listening. To be listened to is to be valued.
Learning takes listening, asking questions and exchanging ideas in a non-threatening, non-judgmental environment. Personally, I am seeking God’s wisdom on ways I have responded to the injustice and prejudices black Americans have expressed. I want to learn if and how I have contributed to the injustice my brothers and sisters of color have experienced.
Lament is a deeply spiritual and Biblical concept. It means to passionately express sorrow, mourning or regret. About one third of the 150 Psalms in the Bible are laments. An entire book of the Bible, Lamentations, is a lament. As humans we are connected and our hearts should express lament wherever and whenever there is pain, suffering, evil, injustice, racism or prejudice.
Our fourth response should be to love with action and intention. Love with our voices. Love with our gifts. Love with our embraces. Love with our acts of kindness. Love by engaging in relationships with people who are different than us.
You will have to choose your response to the current social situations we are facing. By not choosing you are choosing. There is often a high cost to doing nothing. My decision is to listen, learn, lament and love!